SAG-AFTRA mourns the passing of Charles Durning, an army veteran, acclaimed actor and 2007 SAG Life Achievement Award honoree. Durning died Dec. 24 at age 89.
Durning was best known as a character actor, and appeared in hundreds of film and television roles. Among his movie credits were The Sting, Tootsie, The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas and O Brother, Where Art Thou? On television, he appeared in The High Chaparral, Evening Shade, Homicide: Life on the Street, Everybody Loves Raymond and Rescue Me, and provided the voice for Francis Griffin on Family Guy.
But Durning’s adventures onscreen paled in comparison to his real-life exploits in World War II. As a private in the U.S. Army, Durning was among the first soldiers to set foot on Omaha Beach during the Allies’ D-Day invasion. His service earned him three Purple Hearts and a Silver Star for valor, but also left him with psychological scars. He learned to channel his inner turmoil into his acting.
Over his career, Durning received multiple Emmy and Academy Awards nominations, and won a Golden Globe for a 1990 miniseries, The Kennedys of Massachusetts. He also distinguished himself in the theater, where he received a Tony award for playing Big Daddy in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof in 1990.